In the fast-paced world of business, a great leader must be able to draw from a variety of resources to build a comprehensive leadership style that is dynamic, responsive and resilient. Managers and executives are unable to drive sustainable results on their own; they must rely on their teams and subordinates to deliver results. Those with the pragmatic leadership skills benefit from high performing teams.
Today’s workforce is becoming increasingly diverse. Accordingly, a great leader should be able to apply the most relevant approach from a strong repertoire of leadership styles that can be dynamically modified to fit different situations involving individuals and teams. This is essential because, while situations and team dynamics will shift over time, leaders are expected to effectively drive success on a consistent and long-term basis.
The following six leadership styles are among the most effective and can be combined to produce a versatile set of leadership skills applicable across a wide range of industry settings.
The coaching leader is an expert at preparing team members for future leadership roles. These leaders are open to innovation and build teams that have the creative freedom to work from their individual strengths. This leadership style works best when:
This leadership style, alone or in combination with others, can help teams feel highly invested in the success of the organization.
The pace-setter leader emulates self-direction but exercises control over precise goals and assignments needed to complete tasks in tight timeframes. Creative autonomy is not a staple of this type of leadership style. Factors to keep in mind when building this style include:
If this leadership style is not tempered with others, a team may start to feel overwhelmed and may begin to pull back personal engagement, especially for team members that need to feel an innovative spirit in their personal team contributions.
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The authoritative leader drives teams toward centralized goals through mobilizing a common vision. This leadership style is effective when there has been significant change in an organization or in situations where a new team has just been built with members from many diverse settings. This style also can be effective when:
When working with a team of experts in different fields it is important to combine the visionary leadership aspects of this leadership style with more inclusive team communication. Since everyone on the team is needed to bring company goals to fruition, this teamwork angle can help alleviate possible antipathy of other experts on the team.
This leader assumes charge of everyone and typically manages by fear – “my way or the highway.” In times of emergency, corporate takeovers, cyber attacks or as a short-term response to extreme situations, this style can be highly effective. In today’s diverse work settings, a little of this management style can go a long way. Keep in mind:
While it is important that there is a clear level of control in emergency situations, leadership styles that exercise extreme control over employees work autonomy could be considered generally counterproductive.
In times of trouble, when a team has experienced a physical loss of a teammate, or a shift in company priorities has meant team downsizing, the affiliative leader understands a team’s emotional needs and builds up individuals by setting goals that build synergy. Some aspects of this style to keep in mind include:
When employing this leadership style, it is also important to remember to build a goal-based strategy to move past the troubling event and forward toward increased productivity and team excellence.
The democratic leader is an expert at inspiring every team member’s unique contributions toward a common goal. In addition, this leadership style is focused on sustained engaged team participation. Other factors to consider include:
This leadership style is effective for group problem-solving and when a leader has taken a position where the team members are the experts on the subject matter. In projects with a tight turn around, a democratic leadership style will likely need to be modified to fit time constraints.
Building a dynamic and responsive leadership style can be facilitated by seeking professional situations where career mentoring is possible in order to see many different leadership styles used effectively. In addition to learning from seasoned team leaders, it is also important to remain engaged in ongoing professional education.